Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tile Tuesday: Turkey Red

Today's tile is a bit smaller than usual and its also going to be one of the most boring.  Turkey Red's initial release was in 1910 and 1911.  The cards were obtained via coupon redemption, with the coupons found in three different cigarette brands.  The cards were much bigger than the other prominent cigarette cards at the time, the T206s.  Turkey Red cards measured 5 3/4" by 8".   A total of 100 cards were produced over the two year period.

Fast forward 95 years and baseball card companies are resurrecting all sorts of names from the past.  In 2005, Topps brought back the Turkey Red name.  Over the next six years, Topps release five different Turkey Red sets.  Some were stand-alone, others were inserts for the base set.  Though the design was similar to the original, the size of the cards was reduced to the standard 2½" by 3 ½" size.

There are a total of 53 Turkey Red Cubs.  Since there are so few, I made the tile with only six cards across.  That should give you a good look at each.  I'm a budget collector, so my 1910 cards are reprints, not the real deal.

Topps remained pretty faithful to the original 1910 design, which means you won't see much variety here.  About the only design change they made was doing to a wood-grained border, something they did twice.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cramer Cubs

No, it's not Kramer Cubs...

...it Cramer Cubs, with a C!

Starting in 1980, and for three more years following, Cramer Sports Promotions issued a set of cards called "Baseball Legends."  The first three releases were 30 cards each, while the final set added 34 more cards, making a total of 124 cards.

I found a Cubs team set of these being offered on ebay and it cost me only $2.50 to get the fourteen Cubs.  Since this was an early Eighties product, you won't see Sandberg, Dawson, Maddux, Grace, or Sosa.  Heck, the only '69 Cub in the set was Ernie Banks....no Williams, Santo, or Jenkins.  I wonder how many of these fourteen would make the checklist if the set was released today?

Historical Baseball Card Note:  Within a few years, Cramer Sports Promotions became Pacific Trading Cards. They would again release a set called "Baseball Legends" for three more years starting in 1988.  These sets were much bigger and featured colored cards instead of the sepia tones of this set.

Here are the cards...we get a bunch of Hall of Famers and.....The Rifleman??



Sunday, July 29, 2012

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 10,607 Cubs cards from 71 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

 Pre 1970s: Bowman 1949 #130 Harry Walker This card is from Bowman's first full release.  They put out a set in '48 but it only had 48 cards and didn't have players from each team.  The '49 set had a full 240 cards.  Apparently at this time Bowman hadn't learned about the airbrush; they have Walker in a Phillies uniform, though the back lists him as a Cub.  He was traded to the Cubs after the 1948 season.  He spent less than half of the '49 campaign with the Cubs, as he was traded to the Reds on June 15.   

1970s:Topps 1975 #363 Carmen Fanzone So much with this card.....the big '70s mustache....the felt C on the helmet.....the handwritten 23 inside the C.  I've got a previous post about Fanzone here.  The Cubs released Fanzone after the '74 season, so he really shouldn't have had a '75 card.  He spent the year with the Padres' AAA team in Hawaii.  That was his final season in professional baseball.

1980s: Score 1988 #602 Les Lancaster  The good news for Lancaster in 1988: a career high 44 games.  The bad news: only 8 appearances after the All Star break...appendicitis and after returning, he broke his foot and was out the rest of the season.

1990s:Upper Deck 1996 #296 Rey Sanchez  Sanchez had a pretty awful season in 1996.  He was the starting shortstop for the first part of the season but fractured a bone in his hand and missed most of June and July.  He hit only .211 and had just one homer and 12 RBIs.

2000s: Topps Opening Day 2001 #112 Sammy Sosa  This card is from the days when Opening Day had a border a different color than the base.  That's much better than what they do today.  Sammy made history in 2001 by becoming the first player with three 60+ HR seasons.  He led the majors in RBIs (160), total bases, runs scored, and intentional walks.  He was second in the NL in homers (64) and eighth in batting average (.328).  The average was his career high.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hector Torres: Unhappy in Another Uniform

Utility infielder Hector Torres spent one season with the Cubs, 1971.  He was acquired in a trade with the Astros in October, 1970.  Though on the roster the entire 1971 season, he played in only 31 games and hit .224.  That one season stint got him three different cards that showed his as a Cub.

The first two are Topps 1971 and 1972.  On the bottom is his card from 1971 Dell.  Not a single one of the three show him in a Cubs uniform.  It's understandable that the two 1971 cards are the way they are, but Topps should have been able to get him in a Cubs uniform in the '72 set.

None of the three show Hector as a happy guy either.  I wonder why he didn't smile?

Since Topps didn't get him in a Cubs uniform, I will.  I found a couple pictures of him in a Cubbie blue and put them into the '72 template.

This first one confirms the fact that Hector does actually know how to smile!

The other picture I found was a posed hitting shot you saw a lot of back then.

Based on the brown ivy, I bet the two pictures were taken the same day.  The one thing that bothers me with the second picture is the other player in the background.  He's kinda distracting, and it would have been better for him to go.

Consider him a goner!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Me, Harry, and Milo (the Jerk)

As promised yesterday, here is the story of how I got Harry Caray's autograph...

...at a Cubs game.

This was back in 1982, Harry's first year with the Cubs and their first year under Tribune Company and Dallas Green management. I'm a senior in college, recently engaged. My college was within walking distance of the Lake Street L and trips to Wrigley were pretty easy. I decided it was time to let the future Mrs. WW have the Wrigley experience. I splurged and bought a couple lower deck box seats.

They cost me $6.50 each. Today you would spend $104 for a "marquee" date to sit there. I bought the tickets on the day of the game, so we got to the ballpark early to try to get the best seats possible. Because we were early, we got to catch a bunch of the pre-game activities.

We saw Harry and Cubs skipper Lee #$^%#! Elia.

Coach Billy Williams walked by and I yelled "Hey Billy!" He waved back to me with his bat. I grabbed a quick picture, but it was a blurry.

GM Dallas Green walked right past us on his way up to the press box.

None of the players were signing autographs, but...

....Harry was. I made my way down towards the wall and within a few minutes....


the front of my scorecard was signed. Holy Cow!

I'm about to head back to my seat when I see the other Cubs TV broadcaster Milo Hamilton walk by. No one was asking for his autograph, but I had a thought. Wouldn't it be cool to have Harry and Milo sign the card, side by side?

It was a very naive thought. Here's the back story. Milo came to the Cubs and WGN for the 1980 season as the heir-apparent to Jack Brickhouse. For two years he and Jack shared duties and when Brickhouse retired after the 1981 season, the booth was all Milo's....he thought. The White Sox were going to a pay channel for the '82 season and Harry wanted nothing to do with it. New Sox ownership was also looking to make the Sox more family friendly and letting Harry go would help do that. So Harry goes to the Cubs and says he's available. The Cubs pounced on him immediately. New management understood that Harry would be a much more popular asset than Milo Hamilton. Harry blows in and Milo gets blown off. He becomes the #2 man in the booth and has never tried to hide his bitterness about the demotion and his dislike of Harry Caray.

Back to me at the wall with Milo. As I said, I thought a matched set of autographs would be cool, so as Milo walks by I ask him to sign. He walks over and I then say that Harry has already signed and I pointed to the front of the card. I figured he would also see the connection.


He did. He looked at Harry's signature on the front, had a disgusted look on his face, and then opened the card to the inside. He signed on page 3, by the WGN logo. My matching set of autographs didn't happen. Milo the jerk wouldn't put his signature anywhere near Harry's.

I don't have any memories of the game itself (the Cubs lost to the Cardinals 5-4) My memories focus on getting the autographs of happy Harry and bitter Milo.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Filling a Hole....y

A few weeks ago someone was showing their recent acquisitions and one of the cards was of broadcaster Harry Caray. When I saw the card, the thought struck me that I didn't have any cards that featured Harry. Holy Cow! I needed to fill that hole ASAP. And I was off to Sportlots.

I like Harry, but I wasn't going to spend much on him. I was able to find three cards for under a buck total. All three cards were Upper Deck products.

This is from Upper Deck 1995. It isn't really a Harry card, it's Michael Jordan's from his baseball playing days. But it does give us a nice look at Harry and the WGN microphone.


Up next is this card from 2003 SP Legendary Cubs. It looks like Harry is doing the 7th inning stretch, singing, "one...two...three strikes your out." He always waved the microphone for the one, two and three.

The final card is from Upper Deck's 2003 release of Sweet Spot Classic. Harry is down on the field before a game.

The back does have an error. The write-up states that he started a Chicago tradition on Opening Day 1976 by singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." It didn't happen that way. Bill Veeck bought the Sox in 1976 and inherited Harry. At the time he was probably the Sox biggest draw; the team wasn't very good. During the season Veeck noticed that Harry sang along in the booth as Nancy Faust played "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the 7th Inning stretch. He tried to get Harry to sing on the PA system, but Harry refused. So one day Veeck snuck a live PA mike into the booth and suddenly Harry's voice was booming throughout the ballpark. That's how a Chicago tradition was born.

Harry brought the tradition with him when he moved to the Cubs in 1982. Since his death in 1998, the Cubs have maintained the stretch with "guest conductors." This is the 15th season with the celeb singers and at this point, I think its something the Cubs can retire. Let Pat Hughes and Len Kasper rotate duties, but do away with the other singers. Many of them have no idea who Harry Caray even is/was.

I know who Harry is. I heard his broadcasts from both sides of town. I even got his autograph at a Cub game....and I'll tell that story tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

End of Etopps

My last one.

The Etopps program was on its last legs when I got back into collecting, and by the time I bought my first card, the program was for all intents and purposes dead.  It took over half a year to get that initial card of Darwin Barney.  During the wait, Topps announced that they were not going to produce any new Etopps cards.  There has hardly a peep out of collectors.

I found only two other cards that I had any interest in, of Ernie Banks and this one...

....of Ryne Sandberg.  Its a nice refractor type card and its got an official Topps sticker on the back.  But otherwise, bah.

So long, Etopps.  We hardly knew 'ya and we won't miss 'ya.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tile Tuesday: Ron Santo

Inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, and featured in Tile Tuesday today...Ron Santo is on a roll!

I don't have a player collection of Ron Santo, so everything here would be from the team sets  I've got.  There are 74 cards (actually 69 cards, three coins, one poster and one decal) shown. The Topps cards are first, followed by the other brands in alphabetical order.

Monday, July 23, 2012

I Really Wanted Rich Hill's Autograph, Really!

I'm serious.  I really wanted this card.

It comes from the 2008 set of Upper Deck's Masterpieces.  The question, of course, is why?  Why would anyone want a card from a guy that's had a very mediocre career?

Well, I was at Wrigley Field when he made his major league debut.  It was June 15, 2005.  Greg Maddux got pounded by the Marlins and Hill came into the game in the sixth inning and got pounded too.  He gave up two runs on three doubles, but he also struck out two with that big curveball that we had been hearing about.  But no, that's no why I needed this card.

Was it because I saw one of, if not the best game of his career?  I was in Cincinnati in September, 2007 to see the Cubs clinch the division.  A win on Friday, September 28 did that. Hill was on the mound the next night and took a no hitter into the sixth inning before giving up a double to Buck Coats.  He just pitched six innings, as the game was his tune-up for the playoffs.  By the way, Hill lasted only three innings in his only post-season start.  But again, that's not why I needed this card.

Enough beating around the bush.  Why would anyone need an autograph of Rich Hill?  Only one reason: to complete a set.  I put together the Masterpieces Cubs over a year ago.  Since there weren't many base cards, I also went after the relics and the autographs.  

Hill had an autograph card in the 2007 set and it is available by the bucket, super-easy to get.  But the 2008 card was a completely different story.  In a year and a half, I've seen it pop up on Ebay only twice.  The first time the price went sky high and I passed on it.  As much as I like to fill a hole, I'm not going to pay Hall of Famer prices for a Rich Hill autograph.  

A few weeks ago another one finally showed up.  This time, there was very little action on it and I was finally able to fill a pocket that has been sitting empty for two years.  Filling a hole is the only reason to chase a second autograph of Rich Hill.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Santo Inducted Today


It will be a bittersweet moment in Cooperstown today as Ron Santo is posthumously inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame. Something that should have happened years ago is taking place a year and a half after his passing.

The Cubs media guides lists a few of his career highlights including...

  • During the 15 years of his playing career, he was one of only four players to have 2,000 hits, 300 homers, and 1,300 RBIs. The other three are already in the Hall
  • He is one of only two third baseman to have 300 homers and five Gold Gloves. HOFer Mike Schmidt was the other
  • He led the NL in assists for seven straight seasons
  • Nine All Star appearances
Santo was the dominant National League third baseman during his playing time. His career numbers were lessened since he played only 15 seasons. His diabetes certainly had an effect on his longevity. Illness may have cut short his playing career, but it never affected his love of the game, or his love of the Cubs.

More fans today knew Santo as a broadcaster (though I must use that term loosely) than as a player. He wasn't the most articulate man, but you didn't need fancy words to tell how the game was going; you could just tell by the tone of his voice.

As of today, there are 47 players in the Hall that wore Cubbie blue. Few if any of them bled and died Cubbie blue like Ron Santo.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

1999 Wrigley Field Top Ten Moments

A couple years ago I set a goal of collecting all of the cards the Cubs gave away at Wrigley Field.  I've posted my progress from time to time. Now that I have all the cards from 2002, I thought I had them all.  I thought.

Then this card popped up on ebay.  A reader also alerted me to the auction.  Getting the card was fairly simple; I won as the second bidder. Learning more about the cards has been a bit more difficult.

Here's what I know.  The set of ten cards was given out on August 6, 1999.  The Cubs split a doubleheader with the Astros as over 39,000 fans turned out at Wrigley.  20,000 sets were given away to fans 21 and older.  One of the cards features Ernie Banks' 500th career homer.

That's all I could find out.  I have never seen the set before.  It is not included in the Standard Catalog.  Beckett doesn't have a listing for it either.  Sportslots and Checkoutmycards...nothing.  And my card is the only one of its type that has been on ebay in the past two and a half months.

So what are the other top ten moments at Wrigley?  I've got no idea! I'll just have to see if any more of these ever pop up on ebay.

For now, here's my best guess...

....May 2, 1917...double no-hit game
....Game 3 of the 1932 World Series...Babe Ruth's "Called Shot"
....September 28, 1938...Gabby Hartnett's "Homer in the Gloamin"
....May 15, 1960...Don Cardwell becomes the first pitcher in MLB history to throw a no-hitter in his first game for a team
....June 29, 1969...Billy Williams Day...he sets the NL record for consecutive games played and goes 5-9 in a doubleheader
....September 2, 1972...Milt Pappas' near-perfect game
....September 8, 1985...Pete Rose ties Ty Cobb with hit #4191
....8/8/88...the first night game
....May 6, 1998...Kerry Wood's 20 strikeout game

I'll refer back to this list as I find the other nine cards in the set to see how I did.